Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: We see blatant sin getting more and more acceptance. Do you ever wish you could go back and live in what seemed like a simpler time? Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I’m so glad I live today because we have a wonderful opportunity to show the world a different way—to show the world what it means to live as citizens of a different kingdom, the kingdom of God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, November 12.

If you have younger children at home, you might want to get them busy doing something else. But come back for an important topic that we all have to face more and more. This week’s topic is sexual purity, and it’s part of a series Nancy’s been leading us through on personal revival. The series is called Seeking Him. If you’ve missed any of it, you can get a copy at ReviveOurHearts.com. Now, here’s Nancy.

Nancy: I want to talk today about something that has become a huge burden on my heart for Christian women. It’s an issue that is one of the most needed areas of truth, I think, in our culture today—and, even more importantly, in the evangelical world.

It’s the issue of sexual purity. Now, I don’t have to tell you that immorality is rampant, epidemic, in our culture. Not long ago, Newsweek magazine ran a cover article—I’m holding the issue in my hand. The title on the cover is “The New Infidelity: From Office Affairs to Internet Hook-ups, More Wives are Cheating Too.”

The article, which was just shocking in so many senses, is entitled, “The Secret Lives of Wives.” Here’s how it starts out; it’s talking about why wives stray from their marriages:

With the workplace and the Internet, with overscheduled lives and inattentive husbands—it’s no wonder American women are looking for comfort in the arms of another man.

If you read this piece, you know there were some shocking statistics in it—some tragic stories. But what was really sad to me was that the whole topic was kind of mainstreamed, as if this is just the way it is and it’s here to stay.

Now, sometimes we talk as if this rampant immorality were something new. Actually, this has been going on for a long time. Go back to the book of Genesis and through the Scripture. Just in the first book of the Bible, we have incest; we have widespread and legalized sodomy in Sodom and Gomorrah. As you move through the Old Testament, you have record of prostitution, fornication, rape, adultery. Sexual sin is not a new thing.

You’re probably aware that homosexuality was very widespread in ancient Greece and Rome. Socrates practiced it. Fourteen out of the first fifteen Roman emperors were practicing homosexuals. This is not new.

And yet today we see these kinds of statistics that just boggle the brain. We think, “Can it get any worse?” In the Washington Post, Laura Sessions Stepp, who is a Washington Post writer, wrote an article called “The Buddy System: Sex in High School and College: What’s Love Got to Do With It?”

She describes what is called the “hook-up culture.” Some of you may not be familiar with these terms. It’s sometimes called “buddy sex.” The essence of this is kids having sexual encounters with friends where there are no strings attached, no commitment, no romance—just the sexual encounter, no strings attached. The hook-up culture. Buddy sex.

It’s taking place a lot at parties, in closets, bathrooms, parents’ bedrooms, friends’ parents’ bedrooms. And now they say dating is just a thing of the past. Just have these hook-ups, these sexual encounters.

Let me say too that not only is this not a new problem, it’s also not just a male problem. Increasingly, immorality is an issue that is drawing in women in unprecedented ways.

One marriage counselor I read said when she started practicing 20 years ago, just 10 percent of the infidelity she knew of was committed by women. Now it’s closer to 50 percent. Increasingly, if you’re reading about this, you’re seeing that women are being drawn to cybersex and online chat rooms—interestingly, often looking for companionship, relationship.

God made us for relationship, but these women are finding it in ways that are illicit—that are damaging and dangerous and deadly—rather than in the way God intended for us to find it, which is in our relationship with Christ and in holy, healthy, wholesome relationships with people in the Body of Christ.

As women we get drawn into these online chat rooms, for example. Many women ultimately get addicted and start surfing porn sites. Today’s Christian Woman magazine has an online newsletter. They surveyed their female readers—now, this is a Christian magazine surveying their female readers—and 34 percent, more than a third, of their women readers admitted to intentionally accessing Internet pornography. Women. We used to think this was a men’s issue.

One out of every six women—that’s 17 percent of women, including Christians—struggles with an addiction to pornography. And then, here’s the thing with women: They don’t just keep it online. It’s not just the Internet.

Eighty percent of the women who practice online pornography will actually go on to do activity along the lines of what they’ve been seeing on the Internet. This is a much higher percentage than men because women want the relationship. So they will act this out in real life.

That’s the world in which we live. And I’ll tell you this: Until Jesus comes and sets up His kingdom on this world, it’s not going to get better. The Scripture tells us it’s going to get worse. So we shouldn’t be shocked by this in a sense.

But this is a world in which we have been called to be the people of God—to be light, to be salt, to reflect the image and the beauty and the wonder of God’s ways. It’s a dark world in which we’re called to shine as bright lights.

We have an incredible opportunity in our day and age. I’m so glad I live today because we have a wonderful opportunity to show the world a different way, to show the world what it means to live as citizens of a different kingdom: the kingdom of God.

Let me ask you to turn in your Bibles to the book of Ephesians chapter 5. I want to read a passage that I think gives us a sense of how to live, how we are to function. What is our calling? What is our role in this highly sexualized world, in this blatantly, flagrantly immoral culture? How are we to live?

Ephesians chapter 5, verse 1—keeping in mind that Paul was writing this in the era of ancient Greece and Rome, when immorality was very widespread as it is today. Paul says to these young believers, “Be imitators of God.”

Now, that’s already saying that you’re to be different from the world. You’re not to imitate the world. You’re not to conform to the world. You’re not to be like the world. You are to be different. You are to be like God. You’re to be godly in this dark, sexualized, immoral world. “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.”

He’s your Father. Let your lives show a family resemblance to your Heavenly Father. You’re loved. Now, it’s interesting that love is the answer to the immorality of this world. Immorality, illicit sex, is the world’s alternative to true love. But it’s not real. It doesn’t last. It’s fake. It’s a cheap substitute for the real thing.

So Paul says you are dearly loved children. And because God loves you, verse 2, you are to “live a life of love.” You can demonstrate in your marriage, or as a single woman, in this world you can demonstrate true love because you have been loved in an incredible way by your Heavenly Father—“just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Christ loved you, so you live a life of love. And look at the love of Christ. It’s sacrificial, isn’t it? He gave Himself up. Isn’t it interesting that the opposite of sacrifice and love is selfishness? And that’s one of the major roots of sexual sin: selfishness. I want what makes me feel good, what satisfies me.

And then, in this context, he says in verse 3, “But among you”—that is, among you as the people of God—“there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality”—not even a hint; we’re going to talk this week about what that means—“or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”

Why be pure women? Why choose the pathway of moral purity? Because you are one of God’s holy people. And immorality is not fitting. There’s something wrong with that picture, if God’s holy people are living unholy lives.

“Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving” (verse 4). Isn’t it interesting that he put thanksgiving in the context of dealing with immorality? You know why I think that is? Bitterness is another root of sexual sin.

Often those go hand in hand: I’ve been hurt; I’ve been wounded; I deserve a break today. Bitterness and selfishness lead to immorality. So Paul says we are to live a life of love and thanksgiving instead of selfishness and bitterness.

"For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness”—I was; you were—“but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light” (verses 5-8).

  • You’ve been loved.
  • You’re one of God’s holy people.
  • You’re a dearly loved child of God.
  • You’re not part of this world’s system.
  • You belong to a different kingdom.
  • You are light in the Lord.
  • Therefore, ladies, young girls, womenlive as children of light.

Lauren Winner is a single woman whose writings you may have read. She’s an outstanding writer; she’s a best-selling Christian author; she’s a writer for Christianity Today. She wrote an article several years ago for a website called www.beliefnet.com. Her article was called “Sex and the Single Evangelical.”

Now, I would not say this publicly if this had not been released publicly. But in this article, she spoke openly of the fact that she and her boyfriend were at that time practicing fornication. She wasn’t really justifying the fact that they were, and she appreciated the fact that her friend got in her face about it and challenged her about it.

But she also made the point in this article that many young, unmarried Christians are in fact sexually active and that the church needs to face the reality that this is the way it is.

I found myself reading that article and thinking, “I cannot believe what I’m reading.” It’s as if we have said, “It’s just the way it is, and we’re going to have to recognize that and realize that’s reality.”

I have encountered in recent years, over and over again—with Bible college students, with people preparing for the ministry—women who are caught, trapped, snared in sexual sin. I remember after I spoke one night at a Christian college, a young woman came up to me, and she said she and her boyfriend—both of them preparing to go to the mission field—were involved in an immoral relationship. She said, “I just don’t know how to stop. I feel so guilty, but I just feel that I can’t stop.”

Another woman wrote not too long ago and said,

Please pray for me. I am so close to unfaithfulness, though I have a wonderful husband. I’ve been very inappropriate with another married man. I don’t understand what I’m wanting from him, only that I want to be with him. Your series on the foolish woman helped me back off, but just for a while. I feel out of control.

When I saw that email, something very strong got stirred up in my heart. I felt that this woman was like someone in a burning house, and she didn’t know it. Someone needed to warn her. I actually picked up the phone and tried to find a phone number for her. I couldn’t find a phone number, so I emailed the woman in our ministry who would typically respond to an email like that, and I said to her, “Please plead with this woman. Beg her to run from this situation.”

A few weeks later I received another email from the same woman, this one even more desperate. She said,

I feel paralyzed this morning trying to do my job as a church staff member, reading this morning’s emails from the other man and wondering how to run from this situation because now we are in love.

Well, we finally had an opportunity to talk on the phone. And I’ll tell you, if you could just hear. Young women, if you could just hear. Young wives, if you could just hear this woman, this middle-aged woman, pouring out her heart, sobbing, saying,

I can’t believe what I’ve done. I can’t believe where I am. I know I’m destroying everything, but I feel so helpless. I just don’t want to go on living in this life. I want to get out of this life before everything blows up and everybody finds out who I am.

Here’s a woman who has counseled other women in similar situations.

The apostle Paul in the Scripture is so relevant, so practical, so what we need in every era, in every culture, for every issue. The apostle Paul wrote to New Testament believers who lived in a sex-crazed world and who faced, as we do, sexual temptations and issues on a large scale.

Let me ask you to turn in your Bible to 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. Paul says, “Finally, brothers . . . we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus” (verse 1, ESV). We appeal to you. We urge you. This matter of purity was of intense concern to Paul. And it needs to be of intense concern to you.

Now, you may be thinking, “This doesn’t relate to me. I’ve got a happy marriage.” I’ve got to tell you that there is no woman hearing my voice at this moment who is immune to the potential of sexual sin. I don’t care how old you are. I don’t care how long you’ve been married.

I counseled with a woman recently who’s been married for 30-some years, and she is in the midst of an affair. She’s a professing Christian. The other man is a professing Christian. Her husband is a professing Christian. How this all happens I can’t tell you, but I’m saying, don’t think you’re immune.

Even if you never fall into this, you have friends and family members who are. Paul says, “We urge you.” This is important. This is crucial. “We ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more” (verse 1, ESV).

I would say to you ladies who are pleasing God in your marriage, or you’re pleasing God as single women by being chaste and pure—I would urge you, as you’re now seeking to please God, keep doing it, but only more and more. Keep doing it, but abound in purity. Do it more and more.

Verse 3: “For this is the will of God.” This is the will of God. I can tell you God’s will for your life. It is your sanctification, your holiness, your being conformed to the image of Christ.

And what does that look like? What does sanctification look like? “That you abstain from sexual immorality.” That word abstain means “to refrain, to be at a distance.” Stay as far away from it as you possibly can. That’s the will of God: that you abstain from sexual immorality.

Now, let me just give us a summary here of what I know you know. We need these reminders. What is the Scripture teaching on the whole issue of sexuality? Well, we have to start with saying Scripture affirms the beauty, the wonder, and the holiness of sexual relations within marriage. That’s a good thing; that’s holy.

Though sexual relations are a vital way of a husband and wife expressing covenant love and oneness and commitment, they are also a way of their helping each other to be morally pure by being faithful to each other.

So Scripture says to husbands and wives, “Do not deprive your mate sexually” (1 Corinthians 7:5, paraphrased). Ladies, when you withhold sexual relations from your husband, you are making your husband more vulnerable to sin. I don’t know how to be any more plainspoken than that. So Scripture teaches, “Pour your love physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually into your husband.” That’s pure. That’s good. That’s wonderful.

By the same token, the Scripture is clear that all sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful. It is unholy. It is prohibited, strictly prohibited. I’m talking about prostitution, about adultery. And let me say, by the way, adultery may be more than physical adultery. A lot of women are involved in emotionally adulterous affairs.

Scripture prohibits premarital sex. And again, let me say that we have changed our definition today. The Scripture prohibits not just actual intercourse; any sexual activity outside of marriage is unholy. It includes things like homosexuality, bestiality, incest—things we would not have thought years ago we would have needed to say to the church. But we need to say those things today.

But within marriage, there is no shame in sexual involvement, none. Outside of marriage, sexual activity is wrong, and it is shameful. Why? Here’s the bottom line: because sexual purity, sexual faithfulness, mirrors the character of God.

And what is God like?

  • He is a faithful, covenant-keeping God.
  • He is in intimate union within the Trinity and with His people. There is intimacy.
  • He has bought us to be the bride of His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ is faithful to His bride.
  • There is a oneness based on covenant love and commitment.

And the sexual relationship within marriage is intended to picture the faithfulness of God to us, the faithfulness of Christ to His bride, and our faithfulness to Him.

So when we violate moral purity, when we violate the marriage bond, what we’re really doing is violating the biblical picture of redemption. We’re violating the character and the nature of God. And we’re actually violating our own nature as beings that are created in His image to reflect Him.

So Paul says to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 6, “Flee from sexual immorality” (verse 18). Run from it. That word flee means “to run away; to escape; to vanish; to shun.” Run from it. Escape from it.

Flee from sexual immorality and instead be holy. This is the will of God. This is the pathway to blessing. This is what you were created for. This is how you fulfill your humanness, in the purest sense of the word—to be faithful, to be chaste, to be pure, to be sanctified. This is the will of God. This is how we please God.

Leslie: If you want to please God through pure thoughts and pure actions, I hope you’ll pray with Nancy in just a minute. I hope you’ll also do some further study on this topic. Get a copy of a book by Dannah Gresh called And the Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity.

We’ll send it to you when you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts, and we’ll include a very helpful booklet by Nancy called Personal Hedges. She describes some of the safeguards she’s placed in her life to help maintain sexual purity. You’ll find her suggestions to be very wise and practical.

Ask for Personal Hedges and the book And the Bride Wore White by Dannah Gresh when you make a donation by phone. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Just so you know what’s coming, Dannah Gresh and Nancy Leigh DeMoss are teaming up to write a book called Lies Young Women Believe. This is a follow-up to Nancy’s book Lies Women Believe. Help the young ladies in your life think through issues of purity, and watch for this book coming in February 2008.

The next time you see the media portraying illicit relationships as attractive, would you remember that it’s a lie? We’ll find out why tomorrow. Now, let’s pray with Nancy.

Nancy: O Father, how I pray that we would come to take this as seriously as You do, to love holiness as You do, and to live out what You have made us to be—that is, faithful covenant-keepers.

May our lives as Christian women reflect Your covenant-keeping, faithful nature. May our marriages reflect the beauty of Your plan of redemption: Christ laying down His life for His bride and being faithful to her for all of eternity.

O Lord, make us holy. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

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